Remembering My Father
My father emigrated to the United States from Spain in the late 1950s on a Fulbright Scholarship to attend the Illinois Institute of Technology. He was an exceptional student in math and science, but languages were not his gift. In Spain he had studied English in school, but the classes had concentrated on reading and memorizing English and he had very few opportunities to hear or speak the language before he got to the U.S.
He enrolled in his classes as soon as he arrived. He began to attend his math class, a subject he had excelled at in Spain, but found he was incredibly lost. He could not figure out what the teacher was saying at all. It wasn’t until three weeks into the class that he realized he was attending the wrong class. He quickly switched to the right class, and things began to make more sense. He lived up to the requirements of the scholarship and eventually graduated.
He shared this story with me years later when I called him one night at about 2AM from my college dorm, distraught that I was going to fail Freshman Physics. I was in tears, and begged him to come that night and take me home. This was going to be my first academic failure, and I could not bear it.
Instead of coming to pick me up, he told not to worry about it. He told me how many classes he had failed, and shared the story of how, when he first arrived in America, it had taken him three weeks to realize he was in the wrong class because his English was so poor. Failure was a part of life, he explained. He urged me to go to sleep, promising that in the morning things would look better. He was right! I barely passed the class, but I passed!
Whenever I fail at something (which is usually when I learn the most) I always remember that story and laugh. Things usually do look better in the morning. By NdlP